Imbalanced gas debate takes centre stage at SEAAOC

Martin Ferguson, Chairman, APPEA Advisory Board speaking at the 21st SEAAOC conference in Darwin yesterday

Martin Ferguson, Chairman, APPEA Advisory Board speaking at the 21st SEAAOC conference in Darwin yesterday

Day two of SEAAOC in Darwin came with the release of Deloitte’s Economic impact of shale and tight gas development in the NT, commissioned by APPEA.

The report, which rallied the resounding optimism for the NT during SEAAOC week, found that onshore shale and tight gas production could provide more than $22 billion in GSP between 2020 and 2040, and increase full time employment in the state by some 6300 full time positions.

Between 2020 and 2040, the NT’s developing onshore gas industry could provide as much as $1 billion in government revenues, according to Deloitte, and provide significant royalties to the indigenous communities around the state under the Aboriginal Lands Right Act,

Deloitte’s assessment of shale gas in NT comes after the state government inquiry into the shale sector found that the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively, subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime.

Malcolm Roberts, chief executive of APPEA was one of the first speakers to present on day two of the SEAAOC event in Darwin yesterday.

He said with Australia on track to become the world’s leading LNG exporter by 2018, the NT is going to play an increasingly important role in the country’s economic development.

“We all know that over the next three years we will see LNG output from the NT triple. The NT is blessed with an abundance of unconventional gas resources,” Mr Roberts said.

“The NT geological survey estimates that shale gas resources are 234 Tcf – or about half of Australia’s estimated total resource.”

APPEA commissioned the Deloitte report in an effort to dispel misinformation about onshore gas development.

“Unfortunately the debate about onshore gas development and the gas industry generally is often dominated by recycled claims about the risks perceived of industry operations – it is a lopsided debate,” Mr Roberts added.

The imbalanced debate over onshore gas dominated conversation on day two of SEAAOC.

When asked how the gas industry has “lost” public support, Martin Ferguson, Chairman, APPEA Advisory Board said lobby groups like GetUp! have contributed to the “imbalance” and there has also been a lack of informed political debate.

“I think at the moment in some ways we’ve got a political class more interested in the latest opinion poll rather than prioritise the key policy issues and go out and argue them,” he said.

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